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5 tips for getting chickens to lay eggs in a box

White chicken perched atop a wooden box of hay, with some eggs in the hay.

(Photo: Flickr/foundanimals.org)

5 tips for getting chickens to lay eggs in a box

September 04, 2013

Q: How do we make sure our chickens lay their eggs in the box? We just bought them as 18-month-olds and moved them from another town.

A: Getting chickens to lay eggs in the box can sometimes be quite frustrating. Here are some tips to try:

1) Have enough nest boxes. One box for every 4 to 5 hens is the minimum for your hens to feel comfortably laying in them.

2) Make nest boxes appealing. Ensure that your nest boxes are in a dark, quiet corner of the coop. Hens have the instinct to lay their eggs in a safe place. Boxes should be a few inches off the floor.
 
3) Train them with a "nest egg." You can purchase fake ceramic eggs from feed or supply stores, or use a golf ball. When your pullets get ready to start laying, placing the fake egg in a nest box will give them the idea that the boxes are "the place" to lay their eggs, too.

4) Keep them confined till mid-morning. Most hens lay early in the day, so by keeping them in the coop until most of the egg-laying is done, you maximize the chances that they'll lay in the nest boxes instead of finding a cozy place outside the coop.
 
5) Make nest boxes soft and comfy. I notice that as our shavings get depleted in the nest boxes, the hens avoid them. Keep shavings or straw nice and fluffy to encourage laying in the nest boxes.

-- Answer from Dr. G, a veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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